Wales coach Warren Gatland slammed the sin-binning of lock Alun-Wyn Jones – the major factor in his team’s 17-30 Six Nations defeat against England at Twickenham on Saturday – as stupid behaviour by the player.
IRELAND 29, ITALY 17
SCOTLAND 9, FRANCE 18
James Haskell scored two tries as England opened their Six Nations campaign with a solid win over the Welsh.
The match, which marked the centenary of the first Test ever played at Twickenham, turned with the Welsh lock, Jones’s, moment of madness in tripping England hooker Dylan Hartley six minutes before half-time.
That sparked a 17-point spree for England as they took the score from 3-3 to 20-3 in their favour.
“That was absolutely stupid what he’s done,” was the scathing reaction of the Welsh coach, Gatland, when asked about Jones’ indiscretion.
And Alun-Wyn Jones could well pay dearly for it as Gatland made plain when asked whether he would drop somebody for such a crass misjudgment.
“Absolutely. Its huge if you see the impact his mistake had on the match. It effectively lost us the game.”
Gatland added: “The most disappointing factor is conceding 17 points when we were down to 14 men. We spoke all week about discipline and not giving anything away. That’s what cost us the game.
“We’ve got to be up front and honest with him. [Assistant coach] Shaun Edwards just said to him [Jones]: ‘I hope you never do that again in your career’.
“To be honest it’s cost us the game today. It’s huge. It’s something we’ll need to look at next week [against Scotland].
“You need 15 players on the pitch. You should trust the system and your team-mates but on one or two occasions today we didn’t do that.”
His England counterpart Martin Johnson was delighted with aspects of the way England played, especially after a difficult autumn series where they were booed by the home crowd.
“We played well at times and not so well at others,” admitted England’s 2003 World Cup-winning captain.
“But generally I am happy with the way the guys played. We did lose our way a little bit in the second-half and there is lots and lots to work on but scoring 30 points against Wales is no mean feat.”
Wales, trailing 10-20 with just nine minutes left, got back into the match with a try from centre James Hook that saw him ghost past England outside centre Mathew Tait, hand off a prop and leave Jonny Wilkinson flat-footed.
Stephen Jones converted and England’s lead was down to 20-17.
But with just five minutes left England scored their third try and blindside flank Haskell his second.
Delon Armitage’s interception sparked a counter-attack that saw the fullback release centre Toby Flood. He in turn found Tait, making only his second start since the 2007 World Cup final and celebrating his 24th birthday on Saturday.
Tait surged down the right and then kept his nerve to deliver a superb inside pass to Haskell, who had a good laugh afterwards over his dive to touch down.
“I had to celebrate it as its my second try for England, though, the dive will probably get me a ribbing in the dressing room,” he laughed.
“On a more serious note we are very excited about what we are doing. This victory is a step in the right direction,” added the Stade Français star.
There was still time for Wilkinson to kick his third penalty as England ended a run of three straight Six Nations defeats by Wales.
After Alun-Wyn Jones was sin-binned, Wilkinson added the penalty for the yellow card offence.